State government hasn’t earned our trust for Prop CC

Colorado voters will soon be asked to approve an innocent-sounding ballot measure asking us to “just trust” state government to spend our tax dollars.

Proposition CC reads like a greeting card, not a serious question:  “Without raising taxes and to better fund public schools, higher education, and roads, bridges and transit, within a balanced budget, may the state keep and spend all the revenue it annually collects after June 30, 2019, but is not currently allowed to keep and spend . . .?”

That makes it sounds like money is falling from the sky, but state officials can’t spend it.

Oh, please!

Colorado state government will spend about $31 billion this year – $15,000 for every household in the state.  Less than half of that money is subject to the TABOR spending limit that Prop CC would eliminate forever.

TABOR stands for Taxpayers Bill of Rights, a provision in Colorado’s constitution that limits how much government spending can increase each year and requires a public vote on new taxes.  TABOR allows government spending to grow, just not faster than the population growth and inflation.

Since the last recession, TABOR has allowed government budgets to rebound to pre-recession levels.  In those 10 years, the state budget has grown by 55% from $19.9 billion to $30.9 billion.  During that same time, our state’s population has grown by just 15% and inflation has raised prices by 23%. (more…)

Teaching ‘intersectionality’ poisons America’s future

For the first time in history, legislators are writing the progressive doctrine of “intersectionality” into Colorado law.  They want our schools to teach that the groups we belong to – our race, sexuality and religion – are more important than our shared achievements, our character, and the way we treat each other.

House Bill 1192 mandates that history lessons in Colorado public schools include the “social contributions” of a people who are identified with certain ethnic and sexual minorities.  Then it specifically requires teaching “the intersectionality of social and cultural features within these communities.”

If you’re asking, “What the heck does that mean?”, then you’re probably busy raising a family, running a business, and enjoying life.  That is, you’re not a “progressive” with a chip on your shoulder.

For progressives, intersectionality is foundational to their doctrine of victimhood – the belief that society is divided between oppressors and the oppressed and that the deck is hopelessly stacked against all but a lucky few.

To progressives, the American dream is a fool’s errand.

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Progressive Democrats aimed to deceive Colorado voters in 2018

The brazen cutthroat attack by “progressive” Democrats against Colorado’s oil and gas industry is astonishing.  But the most astonishing aspect may surprise you.

It’s not that Senate Bill 181 could bring new oil and gas exploration in Colorado to a halt for several years while bureaucrats go back to square one to write new rules for the industry.

It’s not that the bill amounts to a recession-through-legislation – devastating an industry that employs more than 100,000 Coloradans and generates over $1 billion per year in state government revenue, most of which goes to support public schools.

It’s not the embarrassing slapdown that progressives delivered to former Gov. John Hickenlooper just as he launches his bid to be President.  Hickenlooper spent much of his two terms as governor working to strike a delicate balance between property rights, environmental concerns, and the burgeoning energy industry.

Most astonishing is the outright deception in last year’s election by Democrat candidates who told voters they were opposed to Proposition 112 – a draconian ballot issue that would have banned oil and gas exploration in much of Colorado.

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GOP’s choice: pay for year-round campaign or for oppressive government

Everyone knows that Republicans and Democrats hold fundamentally different views of government.

For Republicans, government is a necessary inconvenience that should be limited to a few essential functions like national defense, public safety, highways and public schools.  To Democrats, government is an essential service that should do all of the above, plus right every wrong, assist with every difficulty, and protect us from ourselves.

Our view of elections is consistent with our view of government.  After an election, Republicans want to get on with life and forget about elections until the next even-numbered year.  For Democrats (particularly the activist variety), government is life.  Planning for the next election begins as soon as the election watch party hangover wears off.

It’s no wonder Democrats are winning.  We all understand that an athlete or team that prepares year-round will win more often than its competitor that takes six months off.

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Colorado Republicans can’t govern unless we can win

Three months ago, the Republican Party in Colorado took its worst beating since before World War II.  Since then, rank-and-file Republicans have been asking, “Can we turn this around?” and “Are Colorado Republicans on the verge of becoming politically irrelevant?”

Colorado Republicans aren’t yet irrelevant, but from where we stand today, irrelevance is within view.  Anyone who says otherwise is ignoring hard facts.  That should make your blood run cold – even if you’re a Democrat – because states in which Republicans are a permanent minority tend to be fiscal basket-cases (see California, Illinois).

Our state’s leftward drift didn’t happen overnight, so turning it around will require persistence, patience and, most importantly, long-term commitment by everyone from grassroots activists and party leaders to financial supporters.

As chronicled in The Blueprint, Colorado Democrats began building their machine, combining a massive, ongoing infusion of money and an army of activists, back in 2004.

Back then, Democrats were sick of losing.  Bill Owens had broken their 24-year hold on the Governor’s office.  Republicans controlled both legislative chambers for more than 20 years, except for a one-vote Democrat majority in 2001-02.  Hank Brown and Ben Nighthorse Campbell (who switched parties after first being elected as a Democrat) were overwhelmingly popular U.S. Senators.

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We can all do better in 2019

It’s easy to be discouraged about the future of America, particularly if viewed through the lens of Facebook and Twitter or described by television talking heads who thrive on conflict apparently because doing so drives up ratings and online followers.

Ironically, Social media cultivates anti-social behavior because we all like to see ourselves as aspiring Rush Limbaughs or Rachel Maddows.  Incivility is rewarded by “likes” and “retweets.”  Reason and understanding, not so much.

Productive conversations do not take place on social media.  It’s difficult enough to have a reasoned online disagreement with someone you know, but the “audience factor” makes it worse because my “friends” disparage you and encourage me and vice versa.  Emboldened by cyber-separation, we throw spiteful jabs at each other using scornful rhetoric that most would recognize as unacceptable in polite society.

For 2019, let’s remember that each of us has an inherent right to his or her own thoughts and to express their opinions.  Our clever comeback probably isn’t so clever.

Proverbs reminds us, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

It’s encouraging that we still tend to behave cordially when we put down our devices and re-enter the real world of face-to-face interaction.  I am reminded of the goodness of my fellow Americans often when I simply hold the door open or show a small courtesy to someone at a store or on the sidewalk.  When meeting face-to-face, we still try to get along – and not only with people like ourselves.

Hundreds of miles away in cities where many doubtless hold opinions quite opposite of my own, people still appreciate courtesy and tend to respond in kind.  A sincere smile or “thank you” from a real person is far more valuable than a fleeting “like” from a “friend.”

We can all do better in 2019 if we put down our devices and re-engage with real, live humans.

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Republicans in Colorado face tough choices

This post also ran on ColoradoPolitics.com on Nov. 27.

Colorado’s 2018 midterm election was an across-the-board smackdown to Republicans.  Democrats won every statewide office for the first time in 80 years and gained their largest legislative majority since 1958.

In several local elections, voters rejected Republicans and chose Democrats who were either manifestly unqualified or incredibly outside the mainstream.

Shell-shocked Republicans are asking, “Want went wrong?”  The answers may not be what Republicans want to hear. (more…)

Media talking heads, get over yourselves!

If anyone in America has a bigger ego than President Trump, it’s surely someone in the media.

Maybe it’s CNN’s Jim Acosta, but he certainly gets a run for his money from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and the editorial boards of the Washington Post and New York Times.

A foreign correspondent once described the White House press corps as “the most arrogant, obnoxious group of people,” calling them “opportunistic, rude, really self-centered.”  And that was during the Obama administration when they were comparatively well-behaved. (more…)